The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, aka the CASE Act. This was without any hearings for experts to explain the huge flaws in the bill as it’s currently written. And flaws there are.
We’ve seen some version of the CASE Act pop up for years now, and the problems with the bill have never been addressed satisfactorily. This is still a bill that puts people in danger of huge, unappealable money judgments from a quasi-judicial system—not an actual court—for the kind of Internet behavior that most people engage in without thinking.
During the vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it was once again stressed that the CASE Act—which would turn the Copyright Office into a copyright traffic court—created a “voluntary” system.
“Voluntary” does not accurately describe the regime of the CASE Act. The CASE Act does allow people who receive notices from the Copyright Office to “opt-out” of the system. The average person is not really going to understand what is going on, other than that they’ve received what looks like a legal summons.
Furthermore, the CASE Act gives people just 60 days from receiving the notice to opt-out, so long as they do so in writing “in accordance with regulations established by the Register of Copyrights,” which in no way promises that opting out will be a simple process, understandable to everyone. But because the system is opt-out, and the goal of the system Is presumably to move as many cases through it as possible, the Copyright Office has little incentive to make opting out fair to respondents and easy to do.
That leaves opting out as something most easily taken advantage of by companies and people who have lawyers who can advise them of the law and leaves the average Internet user at risk of having a huge judgment handed down by the Copyright Office. At first, those judgments can be up to $30,000, enough to bankrupt many people in the U.S.,